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Kent Online Parish Clerks

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Newspaper Abstracts
Reports of Smuggling and Smugglers

Transcribed by Michael Coomber, graciously provided to the Kent OPC for display.
Contributors of additional abstracts are noted by their initials placed in square brackets at the end of the source citation.

Source:   London Gazette (London, England), Issue 5020 published on the 19 June 1712, p. 2.  [SDY]
     Whereas on the 8th of the last month at night, some of the Riding Officers of the Customs being on their duty in Hyth [sic] District on the coast of Kent, were assaulted by 12 persons unknown, supposed to be Romney Marsh Owlers, and one of the said Officer's servants was so desperately beaten that he died thereof in a few days after, as hath been found by the Coroner's Inquest:

     For the better discovery of the murderers, Her Majesty is graciously pleased to promise Her most gracious pardon to any one of the persons concerned in this fact, who will discover any two or more of his accomplices, so as they may be apprehended, and prosecuted according to law. And as a further encouragement, a reward of one hundred pounds will be given to such person, or any other whatever making such discovery, to be paid upon conviction of the offenders. DARTMOUTH.

Source:   London Evening Post (London, England), April 20, 1738; Issue 1628.

     On Monday Capt. RIDLEY, Commander of the Cholmondeley Cutter, in the Service of the Customs at Dover, made a Seizure of 138 Half-Anchors of Brandy, and 138 Bags, containing 32 C. Weight of Tea, and two small Boats. The same day Mr. Young VEEL, Supervisor of the riding Officers at Dover, made a Seizure of 33 Half-Anchors of brandy.

Source:   London Evening Post (London, England), Thursday, November 22, 1744; Issue 2660.
     Last Monday the noted Tom CHANCY, alias BRINDLE TOM, reckon'd the oldest Smuggler in the County of Kent, was taken up by special Warrant at Dartford, being charg'd with wounding several Officers, and others of his Majesty's Subjects, last May at Rochester, in Company with about 200 other Smugglers, who came with Fire-Arms, and other offensive Weapons, to retake some Run Goods which had been seiz'd by some Officers of the Customs: He was conducted under a strong Guard to the County Gaol.

Source:   General Evening Post (London, England), Saturday, July 25, 1747; Issue 2152.
COUNTRY NEWS, Canterbury.

     Yesterday was committed to his Majesty's Gaol in St. Dunstan's, Thomas PURYOUR, charged upon Oath by Thomas HART, of Challock in this County, that he threaten'd the said Thomas HART, to blow out his Brains. He is supposed to be one of the Smugglers, for when taken he had a Brace of Pistols about him.

Source:   London Gazette (London, England), September 29, 1747 - October 3, 1747; Issue 8680.
At the Court at Kensington, the 2d Day of October, 1747.

Present - The King's most Excellent Majesty in His Privy Council.

     Whereas Robert MAPESDEN, otherwise MAPLESDEN, otherwise MAPESTONE, otherwise MAPLESTONE, of Bexhill, in the County of Sussex, Labourer; Thomas FULLER, of Hawkhurst in the County of Kent, Labourer; Daniel BUNCE, commonly called or known by the Name of GREAT DANIEL, of or near Sittingbourne in the said County of Kent, Labourer; and Robert BUNCE, commonly called or known by the Name of HALF COAT ROBIN,of or near Sittingbourne aforesaid in the County of Kent, Labourer, were, upon the Eleventh Day of September last, charged by Information of a credible Person upon Oath, by him subscribed before Thomas BURDUS, Esquire, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, with having been guilty, upon the Eleventh Day of February last, of being, together with divers other Persons, armed with Fire Arms or other Offensive Weapons, and so armed, being assembled at a Place called the Folkestone Warren, in the Parish of Folkestone in the said County of Kent, in order to be aiding and assisting in the Running, Landing, and Carrying away uncustomed Goods; which Information was afterwards certified by the said Thomas BURDUS, under his Hand and Seal, to one of his Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, who has laid the same before his Majesty in his Privy Council, pursuant to the late Act of Parliament of the Nineteenth Year of the Reign of his present Majesty in the Case made and provided: His Majesty doth, by and with the Advice of his Privy Council, by this Order in this his Order in his Privy Council require and command, that the said Robert MAPESDEN, otherwise MAPLESDEN, otherwise MAPESTONE, otherwise MAPLESTONE, Thomas FULLER, Daniel BUNCE, commonly called or known by the name of GREAT DANIEL, Robert BUNCE, commonly called or known by the name of HALF COAT ROBIN, do surrender himself and themselves, within the Space of Forty Days after the first Publication of this Order in the London Gazette, to the Lord Chief Justice, or one other of his Majesty's of the Court of King's Bench, or to one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace.

Signed by William Sharpe.

Source:   London Evening Post (London, England), Thursday, February 8, 1753; Issue 3945.
     By a Vessel arriv'd from Dunkirk we have Advice, that on Friday the second Instant died there, of the Small-Pox, Jeremiah CURTIS, alias William POLLARD, an outlaw'd Smuggler, formerly of Hawkhurst in Kent; who some Years since broke out of Newgate with one CROSBY, committed to that Gaol for Forgery, and the two Bibies, who were there for robbing the Mail.

Source:   London Evening Post (London, England), January 3, 1754 - January 5, 1754; Issue 4080.
Yesterday, Richard BENKS, alias BANKS, an outlaw'd Smuggler, was brought to Town under a strong Guard, and lodged in Newgate. He was a Butcher at Folkestone in Kent.

Source:   London Gazette (London, England), Issue 11670 published on the 28 May 1776, p. 2.  [SDY]
Custom-House, London, May 31, 1776.

     WHEREAS George BRIDE, late of the Parish of St. Nicholas, Deptford, in the County of Kent, Labourer, (commonly called or known by the name of Gipsey George), Robert HARLEY, late of the same Place, Labourer, Edward GEORGE, of the same Place, Labourer, and George PALMESTER, late of the same Place, Labourer, (commonly called or known by the name of Long George the Butcher) stand indicted for the wilful Murder of JOSEPH PEARSON, late one of the Officers of His Majesty's Customs.

     The Commissioners of His Majesty's Customs, in order to bring the said Offenders to Justice, or any other who may hereafter be discovered to have been concerned in the said Murder, do hereby promise a Reward of FIFTY POUNDS to any Person or Persons who shall apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, any or either of the said Offenders, and bring them or either of them before John Sherwood, Esq., at the Public Office at Shadwell, to be paid by the Receiver-General of the Customs upon conviction.

Edward Stanley, Secretary.

Source:   The Morning Chronicle (London, England), Monday, October 15th 1821; Issue 16377
     Tuesday last was committed to the county gaol at Maidstone, by the Magistrates at Margate, John RAMSAY, alias BUFFINGTON, and Thomas Hay WEBSTER, both of Canterbury, charged on the oaths of Washington CARR and others, of being concerned in the late smuggling affray at Marsh Bay, in Thanet. RAMSAY was committed as a principal, and WEBSTER as an accessary, for assisting and concealing the offenders. Several persons, of whom better conduct might have been expected, are said to have contributed to the concealment of some of the smugglers, and that their names have been forwarded to the Government.

Source:   Gazette Issue 18184 published on the 15 October 1825, p. 4.  [SDY]

     WHEREAS it has been humbly represented to the King, that John Howlihan, a seaman of His Majesty's ship Ramillies, employed on the coast of Kent in the prevention of smuggling, having, in the evening of Sunday last, the 9th instant, by the orders of his superior Officer, Lieutenant William Cole, of the said ship, been placed and left on board a boat (described by her crew as the Venus, of Folkestone, and which crew had been, discovered in the act of sinking tubs of spirits), was forcibly thrown overboard and drowned, and his body, was, in the course of the same evening, found on the sea shore near New Romney, with marks of violence upon it, and a Coroner and Jury having held an inquest upon the same, have returned a verdict of "wilful murder against persons unknown";

     His Majesty, for the better discovering the persons who have committed this atrocious crime, is hereby pleased to promise His most gracious pardon to any one of the persons on board the said boat (except those who actually committed violence on the said John Howlihan, or aided in throwing him overboard), who shall discover his accomplices, so that they, may be apprehended and brought to justice.

     ROBERT PEEL and the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty do hereby offer a reward of TWO HUNDRED POUNDS, to be paid to any person or persons who shall give such, information as shall lead to the discovery and apprehension of the said offenders.

     The said reward to be paid by Mr. Charles Bicknell, the Solicitor of the Admiralty, Spring-garden terrace, London, on the conviction of the said offenders, or any of them.

Source:   The Pall Mall Gazette (London, England), Saturday, January 12, 1895; Issue 9299.

     The death of an obscure pauper in the workhouse of East Ashford has severed the last link connecting England of to-day with those brave old times in which smuggling and the murder of her Majesty's Customs officers were the approved methods of vindicating the Briton's inalienable right to free trade. James SLINGSBY, who has just passed away at the patriarchal age of well-nigh five-score years, was already a lad growing out of short coats what time the greatest general of modern history was marshalling his forces for a desperate coup against the peace and prosperity of Europe. There was no question of unemployed labour in those good days. Boys of fifteen years and less were at a premium of 40 to 50 pounds as recruits for his Majesty's service - the New Woman was not extant, or doubtless she would have had her price too - and a youth of spirit, with the down still on his upper lip, might gain more guineas of prize-money in a few months than he knew how to spend in as many years.

     SLINGSBY started life as a member of the infamous "Hawkhurst" gang. Pillage, rapine, and bloodshed, not less than smuggling, were the practices of this precious band - as brutal and callous a crew of desperadoes as ever graced the pages of English ruffianism. The gang was finally broken up and disbanded somewhere in the teens of the present century, and SLINGSBY was thrown out of employment.

     He does not appear to have been idle for long, however. In the historic trial of the "Addington" band at Maidstone, in 1827, he was cited as a witness for the prosecution. Nineteen men on this occasion were charged with the murder of three Customs officers, with wounding several more, and with smuggling. It was found impossible to fix the murder on any individual or individuals, and the capital charge was accordingly withdrawn. On the minor count all pleaded guilty. Fourteen were sentenced to various terms of transportation. SLINGSBY, by turning Crown evidence saved himself from prison.